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How to food journal?

Contents

Nutrition: Keeping a Food Diary

A food diary is a log of what you consume each day. It can help you make changes to your diet and lose weight. You can use it to improve your health by tracking what you eat and drink. The diary helps you and your doctor understand your eating habits. Follow the instructions below to get the most out of your food diary.

Path to improved health

You should include several pieces of information in your daily food diary. These are:

  • How much: List the amount of the food/drink item. This might be measured in volume (1/2 cup), weight (2 ounces), or the number of items (12 chips).
  • What kind: Write down the type of food/drink. Be as specific as you can. Don’t forget to write down extras, such as toppings, sauces, or condiments. For example, butter, ketchup, or sugar.
  • When: Keep track of the time of day you eat.
  • Where: Make note of where you eat. If you are at home, write down the room. For instance, at the dining room table, in the kitchen, or on the sofa. If you are out, write down the name of the restaurant or if you are in the car.
  • Who with: If you eat by yourself, write “alone.” If you are with friends or family members, list them.
  • Activity: In this column, list any activities you do while you eat. You could be working, watching TV, or playing a game.
  • Mood: You also should include how you feel when you eat. Are you happy, sad, or bored? Your mood can relate to your eating habits and help you change them.
How much What kind When Where Who with Activity Mood
3 mini chocolate chip cookies 3:25 p.m. office alone working on report bored
1 8 oz. cheeseburger 6:15 p.m. Burger King Claire, Jackie talking happy
1 medium french fries
1 medium vanilla shake
1 cup Haagen Dazs strawberry ice cream 10 p.m. kitchen alone watching TV tired

When keeping a food diary, some basic rules to remember are:

  • Write everything down. Keep your diary with you all day. Write down everything you eat and drink, no matter how small it seems. Whether it’s a piece of candy, a small soda, or a big meal, the calories add up.
  • Do it now. Don’t rely on your memory at the end of the day. Record your eating details as you go.
  • Be specific. Record your food exactly how you eat it. If you have fried chicken strips, don’t just say chicken. Make sure you also include the extras. This could be gravy on your meat or dressing on your salad.
  • Estimate amounts. If you have a piece of cake, estimate the size (2″ x 1″ x 2″). If you have vegetables, record how much you eat (1/4 cup). When you eat meat, a 3-ounce cooked portion is about the size of a deck of cards.

Things to consider

In order to succeed, your diary needs to tell the truth. You don’t gain anything by cheating to look good. If you have questions, talk to your doctor or a dietician. Share your food diary with them to plan changes to your eating habits.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • How often or long should I keep a food diary?
  • What should my food diary tell me?
  • Should I list vitamins, supplements, or other medicines?

Resources

Food and Activity Journal

10 Tips for Keeping a Food Journal for Weight Loss

Most people think of weight loss as a formula: healthy food + exercise = weight loss. So, why then, is the scale still not budging even though you’re doing everything right? It’s probably because the weight loss industry doesn’t teach us the secret ingredient that’s vital for a healthy life and healthy body: our minds. We often overeat not because our body is demanding it, but because our brain is. Stress, powerful emotions, and lack of sleep all lead us to dip our hand into the cookie jar or to order the burger instead of the salad. Simply put: being in tune with our mental state makes us more in tune with the rest of our body. But how exactly do you find out what’s going on up there to lose weight down below? Thankfully, there’s a super simple brain hack. It’s called a food journal and it’s time you get writing.

In 2008, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that among 1,700 individuals, those who journaled daily lost double the weight compared to non-journalers. And a 2012 study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics discovered that, out of 439 women, those who kept a food journal lost about 13 percent of their starting body weight compared to the 8 percent of those who did not journal.

The power of the food journal is that it keeps you accountable and makes you more aware. You are less likely to grab that piece of chocolate cake if you know you have to write down later and face the ultimate critic (AKA you). Plus, you become more aware of the emotions tied to your food or the habits you’ve fallen into. Perhaps you find that you crave fatty snacks around 4 p.m. When you sit down and ask yourself the simple question “why” in your journal, you realize that 4 p.m. is peak stress time at work. The following day, you come prepared with a healthy snack to munch on at 4 p.m.; maybe you even do yoga before work to prevent your stress.

Journaling is a scientifically-proven weight loss tool, but it can help you with so much more than just that. It can be used to track your step-by-step progress in fitness or your success at work. Whatever you use it for, there’s one downside to journaling: it’s downright hard. It’s burdensome to consistently write in a journal every day and difficult to face your emotions head on. But, trust us, just one short journal session a day can help you keep your word when it comes to weight loss. We’re giving you the tips you need to successfully put pen to paper and put your weight loss efforts on the fast track to success! For even more ideas on how to stay trim or lose the LBs, check out these 30 Weight Loss Tips Better Than Counting Calories!

1

Keep Your Journal on Your Nightstand…

Some people are creatures of habit and they do the same thing every day. Others go where the wind takes them. But there’s one thing that everyone does every single day: sleep. Keeping your journal next to your bed is a great daily reminder to write down what you ate that day. Bedtime is also your least distracted, least hectic time of day, which means you can’t make the “I’m too busy right now” excuse and can instead reflect on your habits. Oh, and before you hit the hay, whip up a healthy overnight oats recipe for the morning. You can proudly jot one of those down in your food journal tomorrow!

2

…or Write as You Go

If totaling up the day’s eats seems like an overwhelming task, try doing it step by step. Quickly writing down what you ate right after a meal or snack is a more manageable way of writing your food journal. Plus, writing it in the moment allows you to more accurately portray exactly what you ate and how you felt about it.

3

Make it Travel-friendly…

Whether you’re a minute-by-minute or before-bed journaler, make sure you get a notebook that’s portable. Having a journal that you can take to work or on vacation is essential since it allows you to stay consistent and prevents you from falling off the health wagon. If you buy a big, heavy journal, you might as well kiss your weight loss progress goodbye as this opens up a whole host of excuse possibilities. A compact, lightweight journal is just as easy to keep in your bag as a wallet! For more really simple weight loss ideas like this one, check out our list of 50 Best Weight Loss Tips.

4

…or Go Digital

These days, there are tons of apps out there dedicated to helping you track your weight loss progress. They function the same way as a food journal: they allow you to document exactly what you ate, when, and how much. A recent study out of Northwestern University found that those that tracked their eating on a mobile device were more likely to lose weight than those who did not. Not many of us carry a journal with us everywhere, but most of us have a smartphone glued to our pocket 24/7, making this the most convenient way to dive into food journaling.

For more smartphone-inspired weight loss, check out these 50 Best Chia Seed Recipes on Instagram.

5

Get the Picture

A recent study out of a nutrition clinic in Columbia found that those who take weekly pictures of themselves are more likely to lose weight than those who shy away from the lens. Get the picture? Taking selfies can help make you skinny! Try adding pictures of yourself to your diary or add them to your digital food log. They’ll serve as motivation and reward since you’ll literally be able to see the changes in your body!

6

Be Specific

Being specific is probably the most important aspect of keeping an effective weight loss journal. It’s easy to say “I had a sandwich for lunch,” but if you want to get the most out of your words, write down word for word what you ate that day. After all, a small, whole wheat sandwich is totally different than a meatball sub, but both could be considered “sandwiches.” When you’re writing, focus on portion size, time of day, environment, and how you felt before, during, and after eating. This will give you insight into your eating patterns in the long run and can help you make small interventions for a big change over time. And don’t forget to list what you drank that day! Drinking your calories is on our list of 50 Little Things Making You Fatter and Fatter.

7

Get Emotional

Part of being specific is being emotional. You don’t want to simply write about what you ate, you want to write about how it made you feel. If you notice that you reach for a bar of chocolate every time you fight with your husband because you feel sad and stressed, then perhaps next time you’ll be more likely to go for a run when things get tense. It’s not going to be a perfect science, but it will point you in the direction of healthy habits. For more healthy habits, try these 20 Weight Loss Tricks You Haven’t Tried.

8

Be Honest

You may feel guilty about the pizza you had today and you might not want to write about it, but that’s the point! Being totally honest in your writing allows you to notice your eating trends and pick up on your feelings around food so that you can take actual steps toward tangible change. A recent study from journal Appetite found that those who felt guilt around food were more likely to overeat and gain weight in the long run. Allowing yourself to fully address those feelings of guilt (or anxiety or sadness or whatever you’re feeling), could help you develop a better relationship with food over time. You will never reach your goals if you can’t face the facts. The pen can be mightier than the sword (and by sword, we mean fork)—but only if you let it!

9

Try a First Draft for Your Next Day

Once you’re in the habit of jotting down everything you’re eating and drinking, consider taking a moment at the end of the day to draft your next day’s munchies—minus the vices and other stuff you wish you weren’t writing down. So that you don’t get too confused with the order of things, put these drafts either on a new page of paper (that can be torn out if you want) or at the bottom of your current day. You may find that this small act of predicting and planning your meals will help you make even better, healthier choices!

10

Set a Date

We’re proposing a new kind of date night: a date with you and your journal. Logging your food every day is great and all, but it won’t actually do anything until you sit down and face the truth. Try to meet once a week with your journal and reread everything you have written. Notice patterns, notice emotions around food, notice cravings, and more. Try to find places where you can intervene to set yourself on track for weight loss success. Try these craving interventions to get started!

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This story is part of the 2018 Feel Good Food Plan, our two-week mind-body-belly plan for starting the year off right.

This month is my 10-year anniversary of keeping a food diary. I’ve used the same app (SparkPeople) the entire time, which makes browsing back through my phases—of paleo, raw, and too-many-tacos—both convenient and insightful. The app makes tracking macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein) simple, and it allows me to monitor more specific ingredients like fiber, sugar, or iron. (You can also track exercise and chat with other members in a community feed, but I’ve never used those functions.)

Ten years of tracking makes me feel old, and compulsive, but also proud. Being the health-geek that I am, self-study is a source of endless fascination, inspiration, and exploration. It was especially interesting to track my transition from protein-at-every-meal to totally being plant-based, for example.

The benefits of keeping a food journal

For the less data-enthusiastic, here’s some journaling motivation: simply keeping a food log can double a person’s weight loss, if that’s your goal. It’s good for other things too:

Food journaling can help you understand what’s pissing off your digestion, disrupting your sleep, or causing those afternoon energy crashes. The act of writing down what we eat and drink—and even just knowing that we’ll be tracking the trail mix—makes us more mindful of our consumption. It’s an excellent way to uncover invaluable details about our relationship with food, and to remind ourselves what we otherwise mindlessly munched on today. (I can’t count the number of times my clients have returned after a week of meal tracking with a revelation (like, I am totally addicted to almonds!) that is then theirs to choose to change, or keep.)

This allows for accountability, but on your own terms. For some, a buddy-system is additionally helpful, so consider comparing notes with a friend. For others, the idea of sharing is a no-go, in which case you don’t have to show your diary to anyone, unless you’re my client.

Great tools for journaling

The downside is that food journaling is another thing to do every day. But, there are apps for that. Obviously, I would recommend SparkPeople; it’s been so convenient for me over the last decade that I’ve never wanted to switch. Depending on your goals and aesthetic standards, there are a ton to choose from. MyFitnessPal and LoseIt are popular, and some newer apps on the market now positioned as macro-trackers are also great (e.g. Fitocracy Macros).

The benefit of tracking digitally is that you can automate things (like saving meals or favorite foods) and save a lot of time. But they can be too obsessive for some. If you’d rather not track calories but still want to glean some broad-stroke insights about your intake, good old-fashioned paper is great, or a Google Doc, which I like because it’s accessible any time.

Tracking can be quick, too. My daily entries now take less than a minute to enter. Beginning is the biggest time-investment, but over time, and especially with apps, it gets a lot easier.

Some Tips Before You Get Started

– Be honest! Not writing it down is just denial. (But if you do fib, you’re not alone: we tend to underestimate our calorie intake by up to 40%.)

– Get to know serving sizes. For example: Three ounces of protein is as big as a deck of cards; a teaspoon is dice-sized, and a ping-pong ball-sized “scoop” of anything is two tablespoons.

– It’s not all about the calories. Try tracking other things you care about or are working on, like sugar intake, energy fluctuations, or whether eating less protein actually makes you feel better. Tracking progress can be really motivating, in the same way that running a faster mile or lifting a heavier weight can be.

HEALTHY HEART BLOG

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just attempting to eat healthier, keeping a food journal can help you make positive changes. Writing down every snack, sip of soda, and carb that you consume will make you more accountable for what you are eating. Here are a few benefits of keeping a food diary.

Weight loss
Keeping a food diary can help reveal the unhealthy habits that are stopping you from losing weight. Writing down everything you eat will make you less likely to pick up the handful of M&M’s in the office or order the extra side of ranch for your salad. Often people forget about the little snacks that could potentially be keeping them from losing weight. Maintaining a food diary will help you say no to the extra calories that may be stunting your weight loss.

Detecting food intolerances
Food diaries can also help determine if you have a severe reaction to certain foods. In some cases, reactions to different foods can happen hours after the food has been consumed. Writing down what you eat and how you feel afterwards can help you realize what foods your body reacts negatively towards. If you feel bloated and nauseous after eating eggs, dairy, or gluten, then you may be intolerant to these foods.

Portion control
Keeping a food diary is also an excellent way to manage the portions of your food. It can be hard to control your portions when restaurants offer enormous plates, and gas stations have jumbo size cups for soda. Even cake tins and dinner plates are larger than ever. Using a food diary will keep you accountable for the size of your meals. Before starting your food diary do some research on the proper portion sizes, then base your meals off of the information you find.

Better nutrition
Keeping track of your every meal will reveal more than just calorie intake and food intolerances; it can also show whether you are eating enough of each food group. If your food diary consists of mainly carbohydrates and proteins, then you’re not getting the vitamins you need from fruits and vegetables. Keeping a food diary will allow you to analyze what foods you are not eating enough of, or which ones you’re eating too much.

Identifying triggers to unhealthy eating
It can be beneficial to jot down your location, time of day, and mood when keeping a food journal. Keeping track of these things can reveal how stress, work, or certain people affect your food choices. For example, if you reach for a candy bar each time you enter the office, then stressful environments may cause you to crave sugary foods. If you eat every meal standing up, then you’re probably rushing and eating more calories than if you sat down and took your time. Using a food diary to note certain triggers will help you get rid of the unhealthy habits.

Now that you know some of the benefits to keeping a food journal, manage your progress by using QardioBase. This smart wireless scale makes managing your weight loss journey fun and easy! QardioBase measures your weight, muscle mass, body fat, and BMI. It’s easy to use and an essential part of your healthy lifestyle.
Post contributed by Natalie Cassidy: An avid health and fitness enthusiast. Natalie enjoys creating new healthy recipes and hitting the gym as often as possible. She believes that a healthy lifestyle leads to a happy lifestyle.
Sources:
The Wall Street Journal

  • A food journal is a built-in mindfulness tool to check in with yourself on how you feel before, during, and after you eat.
  • A new study published in Obesity found that tracking what you eat takes less than 15 minutes a day when done regularly.
  • Logging foods can help you lose weight by informing your choices for the future.

Let’s start with some honesty: Keeping a food journal seems like a drag. Scribbling on a notepad amidst friends — “Was that seven croutons or eight, Karen?” — can feel awkward after every meal or snack. But in reality, logging what you eat really can help you lose weight and take a lot less time than you may think, according to a new study published in Obesity.

In the first month of a weight-loss program, the 142 participants took an average of 23 minutes per day to log the foods they ate. By the sixth month, it only took 14.6 minutes. Plus, people who logged their food at least twice a day were more successful at losing weight than those who did it once — and the three time per day-ers lost the most.

Does keeping a food journal help you lose weight?

Yes. Tracking what you eat at each meal or snack can help you improve your health and lose weight for two major reasons.

First, you’re accountable to an observant yet nonjudgmental party (the trusty food log). Consistently logging your food helps you consider why and when you’re eating and how hungry or satisfied you feel. This record-keeping can help you have a more positive relationship with food in general. It draws your attention to food-related pitfalls that may have previously thrown you off-track and gives you the information you need to move forward from a place of honesty.

The second reason why it works is that provides you with a wealth of information about you. You’ll learn more about both the foods you enjoy (and don’t enjoy) plus the places and situations that you find yourself eating. It can help you notice any negative feelings related food, and identify why you might be eating for reasons that have nothing to do with how hungry you actually felt.

Sofie DelauwGetty Images

How do you write a food journal?

Just try to stay as consistent as possible and be patient with yourself while you adjust. If it feels challenging yet manageable, it’s likely to be beneficial. If you miss a day, don’t sweat it. Just pick it back up the next. And keep in mind that it’s not forever. Food logs can tell you a lot whether you do it daily for a year or daily for today.

Pen and paper is a tried and trusty way to do it, but it may not be realistic for you. Try writing in a note on your phone, taking pictures, or using an app. MyFitnessPal and LoseIt — both free — are two of the most popular ones. Fitbit also has a food tracker built into its app. To start:

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Log foods as soon as you can. The key to nailing the whole food journaling thing is to actually record what you’re having at the exact moment you’re having it. But since that’s not always realistic, don’t fret. If you can take a quick pic of what you’re ordering or a meal before you eat it and fill in the details after-the-fact, that’s okay too.

Write down where you’re eating. Most of us don’t eat every meal and snack in a dining room on a table with a tablecloth. Keeping a physical or electronic record of where you eat will help you become aware of your current habits and the scenarios that impact them.

Thank about how you’re feeling or what you’re doing. Reviewing patterns is helpful for finding ways to make specific changes, like if you always reach for a snack when you’re stressed at work. Could you try a different form of stress-relief, like going for a 15-minute walk to clear your head?

Consider when ate “filler” over flavor. Let’s say you ordered a burrito at lunch. Did you need the wrap, rice, beans, guac, cheese, sour cream, all the salsas, and steak? Or, were you super full afterward, slugging through your afternoon in a half-asleep food coma? Next time you’re in the mood for Chipotle, ordering a burrito bowl instead could help move the needle toward your weight-loss goals by giving you flavor with less filler.

Note what you may have “missed” at any meal. Did you order a bunless burger at lunch today and ultimately down the contents of a cereal box while watching TV after dinner? Could you try adding in extra fiber to your lunch and see how you feel tomorrow? If you skip meals or skip satisfying components at a meal, you’re likely overeat later on.

Use your food log as a library. It’s a go-to list of your favorite items to order, the restaurants where you picked salad when what you really wanted was pizza, great recipes you enjoyed, and which options or modifications left you feeling satisfied, not deprived.

Be honest. If you’re using a food log but not being totally truthful in your entries, then it’s no longer working as a tool for you. The only person who has to see it is you. Start from a realistic place and make gradual changes. Habits are a result of the choices you make consistently.

Are food diaries effective?

A food journal holds you accountable and creates a personal reference guide that can inform your future choices and, ultimately, your habits. However, it’s not for everyone. If you know you’re susceptible to obsessive eating patterns or food phobias; have a history of an eating disorder; or if for any reason at all a food log makes you feel guilt, shame, or fear, then this isn’t for you. Keeping track of what you eat is supposed to help you stay mindful and accountable — not bad about yourself.

Whatever inspires you to show up for yourself and for others, do that, and do it consistently. If a food log helps you make positive lifestyle changes, then that’s 15 minutes of your day well-spent!

Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute Director, Nutrition Lab A registered dietitian with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, Jaclyn “Jackie” London handles all of Good Housekeeping’s nutrition-related content, testing, and evaluation.

Benefits of a Daily Food Journal

Studies show that people who keep a daily food journal are more likely to be successful with reaching their health goals. A daily food diary provides awareness of what, how much and why you are eating. It is important to keep a food and behavior journal. Track all intake and elimination (BM). Food diaries help people identify areas where they can make changes that will help them lose weight or maintain their weight. In addition, one can identify the triggers to avoid if they review their food journals and see a pattern. Sometimes, the simple act of recording everything will deter overeating.

Thorough and precise information to help you make sure meals are balanced with enough protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, water and supplements. It also can give you peace of mind and not have the burden of remembering everything and having to mentally file it. This is a great concept to incorporate at the beginning of changing your eating pattern until it becomes a habit.

9 Steps to Successful Food Journaling:

  1. Make the Commitment to food journaling because you want to reach a particular health goal or just live a healthier lifestyle and write down your intention for the commitment.
  2. Decide on the Format to journal be it online, on your phone or writing in down in a notebook.
  3. Decide the Timing on when you will journal, either after each meal or end of the day.
  4. Decide on the Details to record in your journal. List all meals, snacks, drinks as well as appetite level, behavior, mood, sleep, anxiety, triggers, cravings, etc.
  5. Be Honest about Portion Sizes as there is no reason to sugar coat anything as you are trying to better your lifestyle not be in denial of anything.
  6. Include everything even a piece of candy as these little nibbles here and there can derail the best of our intentions.
  7. Beware of Obstacles of trying to be perfect, being ashamed of our food choices, self sabotaging reaching our health goals and instead acknowledge setbacks may happen but most importantly it is over reaction and desire to stay motivated that counts.
  8. Review Your Journal as the act of acknowledgment and reflection are both important pieces to achieving healthier outcomes.
  9. Look for Patterns and Determine what Changes are needed are crucial from keeping you from not reaching your goals and trying alternatives to stay on track.

Here’s to your future success. This is your time.

This is your year to reach your goals.

P.S. Have more wellness empowerment to share with you…so never miss a beat by staying in touch here.

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Have you ever thought about what you eat each and every day? Or have you ever had to? Food diaries and food journals would be very helpful if you’d like to start tracking down what you are eating along with all the calories that go with what you are eating.

Basically, a food diary is a record of what you eat each and every day. Keeping track of what you are eating would guide you if in case you’d like to tweak your diet to be able to lose weight. Keeping track of what you are eating and drinking can help you improve your health by understanding you’re eating habits.

Making something concrete such as a food journal template or a food diary template would help you stick to your diet if you’ve started a diet plan. Recording your food and drink intake in a weekly food diary template would encourage you to actually stick to it until you’ve achieved the results you want.

Having a food log template wherein you would be planning your meals would be one of the healthiest things you can do which can change your life for the better. Usually, when a person makes and keeps a food diary, he/she also starts counting and recording the calories consumed during each meal.

Food Journal Templates

Importance of making a Food Diary

A food diary template is very easy to do if you are planning to start counting your calories and taking a look at what you are actually eating and comparing it to what you should be eating in order to be a lot healthier. There are many reasons for you to start making your own weekly food diary template which may encourage you to start making your own. Here are the different reasons:

Learn About and Control Your Caloric Intake

One of the most important reasons for making (and sticking to) a food diary is so that you can learn about the calories present in different food and beverages, and start controlling how much you consume. Of course at the beginning, it can be quite tedious to count calories but once you start learning how much calories different kinds of food contain – especially the ones you frequently eat, then it will be a lot easier for you to count your calories each and every meal.

Understand the Calorie Sources to be Able to Control Your Portions

Calories aren’t just focused on the total amount of calories in a particular food or beverage but also the breakdown of the different nutrients – proteins, fats, carbohydrates and such, which are actually present in the food and drink. You’d have to know these so that you can find out what kinds of food have more protein or carbohydrates, according to what you need. You would need to know this breakdown as each day you’d need to consume a certain amount of nutrients and calories so as not to sacrifice your health especially when you are dieting.

Once you’ve come to understand the different calories which are present in food and beverages as well as the breakdown of nutrients in them you can start planning out you meals and decide which food you can eat and how much you can consume at each meal. Portion control is just as important especially if you are trying to lose weight.

To Set Your Objectives and Identify Your Issues

If you’d like to start living a healthier lifestyle, making a food journal template and sticking to it would help you out. Whether you want to start living healthier or start losing weight, keeping a food log template would give you the opportunity to do so. You’d have a concrete record of that you have eaten and you would have the ability to make any changes to your diet however you wish.

When you write down what you are eating for every meal, you would be able to pinpoint when you start binge eating and what food causes you to do so. You can then start avoiding the said food or only have it available when you are on a cheat day.

Pinpoint Deficits or Surplus of Calories

If you are pairing your food journal keeping with working out to lose weight, then all the information on it would allow you to see exactly how many calories you’ve consumed. To be able to stay healthy, you would have to consume the right amounts of nutrients and calories each day and keeping a food diary would allow you to see if you have any deficits in a particular nutrients. Also, if you have eaten too much of a certain nutrient, then you would know how much you’d have to burn off in your next workout.

To be Able to Analyze All Your Food Habits

If for any reason, you’d have to consult with a nutritionist, then you’d have to start making a food journal anyway. This is so that you can document all your eating habits, to be analyzed or used as reference by you or your nutritionist. This is one of the more practical reasons for making and keeping such a diary.

These reasons are all great, but it would also be helpful to learn about the different benefits of having your own food journal template to fill out. Read on to learn about the different benefits of keeping a food long template for your own convenience.

Benefits of Keeping a Food Diary or Food Journal

Now that you know the different reasons for starting a journal, let’s take a look at the benefits of not only making one but actually sticking to it. These benefits may convince you to start creating a food diary template for you to fill out and start keeping track of everything you eat along with all your eating habits.

To be Responsible for Your Own Diet

Documenting and keeping track of everything you eat along with your feelings and physical activities would make you responsible for your own diet. Having a food diary template to fill out would make you accountable for your own actions and everything you place in your body. You make all the decisions on what you eat and drink at every meal.

To be able to Plan Out and Eat Healthier Meals

Keeping a diary of everything you eat and drink would allow you to see whatever unhealthy patterns you may have and would allow you to identify which you need to cut out of your diet. This would allow you to plan out healthier meals and stick to them as long as you are motivated to reach your goals.

To be able to Achieve Your Goals

Being able to document everything you’ve eaten and actually being able to see what you’ve written by going through your diary will help you think about what you are putting in your body. When you are more conscious of what you are consuming, you would be more efficient in avoiding what you need to and adding on to what you are lacking. When you do this, you would be able to achieve your goals at a faster rate, thus making you a lot healthier.

To be able to Connect Your Feelings to What You Eat

Since when you are keeping a diary, you won’t only be writing down the food, quantities, and calories, but you would also have to write down the feelings that go with it – both emotional and physical. In doing this, you will be able to determine which food gives a negative effect to your body and which ones you tend to eat when you are under stress or are experiencing negative situations.

To Help You Lose Weight

Studies have shown that people who make, keep and stick to a food journal are more likely to lose weight more efficiently. The reason for this is that since you would be accountable for what you are consuming and you write everything down, you would be able to keep track of everything and make adjustments whenever you need to. As long as you plan out your meals and stick to them, you’d be losing weight in no time.

To Keep You Healthier

Having a food diary will allow you to take note of everything you are eating. When you can see what you are eating and you are planning out healthier options, you can start living that healthy lifestyle you’ve been trying to achieve thus far. Something as simple as a food journal would give you an opportunity to start and maintain a healthy living lifestyle.

Food Diary Templates

Tips on Sticking to Your Food Journal

Aside from the reasons and benefits of having and keeping a food journal, it would be helpful for you to learn different tips to be able to stick with your plan. Here are some tips on sticking with your food journal:

  • Keep your journal on an accessible area so that each time you reach for any type of food or beverage, you can grab your journal too and start making notes.
  • Also at the end of the day, you can keep it by your bed so that you can reflect on what you’ve eaten throughout the day as well as all the other notes you’ve written down.
  • Make sure your journal is portable so you can bring it along even if you travel. Wherever you go, you have to bring your journal so you are able to keep track and record everything you’ve eaten.
  • Be honest and try your best to stick to your plan.

How to Make a Stick to a Food Diary or Food Journal

Knowing such great reasons, benefits and tips for making a sticking to a weekly food diary template, or any other kind of food journal is very helpful so now let’s take a look at some steps and tips in making and keeping your own food diary or food journal.

These tips and steps will help guide you in successfully sticking to your food diary:

  • A food diary or food journal can be any notebook or organizer which you are sure you can fill up in an organized way. Start with an empty notebook or organizer which you know will encourage you to stick to your plan. You do this by decorating it however you wish to add an element of fun to your diary.
  • Once you’ve decorated and set-up your diary, you need to think of what you should be placing in it. Typically, you’d have to include the date, time and place of your meal, food and drink consumed along with the quantity and other extra notes such as the calories in each of the food and drink items.
  • You can write all the information down or type it, print it and stick it on your diary.
  • Make sure to record each and every thing you eat and drink at every meal. This would ensure that your diary is accurate so that when you would need to analyze your intake and your eating habits, you won’t be skipping on anything. Include even your snacks and anything you had nibbled on throughout the day.
  • Also be sure to specify everything which went into your mouth, not just a general account of what you had eaten or drank. This would help you when you start counting your calories when the time comes.
  • Aside from being specific with the kind of food and drink you are consuming, also be specific in writing the amounts. This would be very important in analyzing your eating habits and your food and drink intake. Doing this would allow you to see how much you are actually consuming and you can start adjusting from there. Each day you can make small changes whether your portions are too big or too small.

Food Log Templates

Other essential points to consider

While creating a food journal, you must ensure to add the other essential points. Keep on measuring the quantities you are eating each and every day and record all these in your journal.

  • If you are eating out, then you would have to just make the most accurate measurements of the quantities you are eating.
  • Aside from keeping track of what you are eating and how much you are eating, you would also have to learn about the amount of calories present in everything you eat and drink. You’d have to write these down right next to the types of food to keep your information organized.
  • You can find resources on the amount of calories present in each type of food online. Print out these resources and use them as a guide for when you are filling in your diary. Again, you should start counting how many calories you consume each day then start adjusting as needed.
  • If you are trying to lose or gain weight, you can start by decreasing the amount of calories you consume each day. Adding or subtracting about 500 calories each day would help you achieve about a 1-2 pound increase or decrease over time.
  • After you’ve recorded all the details about what you ate and how much you’ve eaten, you can then write down how you have felt after eating each and every food or beverage. In order for your input to be much more effective, you can wait about 15-20 minutes after eating before writing down how you feel.
  • You can also try writing down how you feel before eating in order for you to be able to reflect on whether you have issues or concerns with emotional eating. This would be helpful especially if you are trying to lose some weight. Also be sure to note how hungry you are prior to eating so that you know can see if your level of hunger affects how much you eat at each meal.
  • Also be sure to include any side effects you may experience after eating so that you can pinpoint if there is any type of food which triggers an allergy or causes you to feel something different.
  • Now that you’ve made a record of everything you’ve eaten then it’s time to start analyzing the data in your food journal template or food log template. Start by looking at your eating patterns and eating habits by going through your notes. By doing this, you will be able to see more frequent eating patterns or eating habits which may enlighten you.
  • Make a note of how many snacks you eat aside from your daily meals and try to see whether you tend to go for healthy snacks or the less healthy options. Also try and analyze whether these snacks actually satisfy your hunger or not enough that you still end up eating after only a short period of time.
  • Keep a weekly food log template and compare what you are eating on weekdays and on weekends. This could vary a lot since you may have a lot more free time on the weekends, which make you eat more than you should. Here you can see how often you eat in and how often you takeout food, which can be very helpful information especially when you start to plan your meals.
  • It would also be helpful to include any notes regarding any emotional connection you may have with food. This is when you can start to identify any kind of situations which may trigger your binge eating or eating certain unhealthy types and quantities of food.
  • Also start looking at how different food or drinks affect your body so that you can avoid the kinds of food which have a negative effect on your body. Those which give you a feeling of being bloated, nauseated, gassy or way too full must be part of that food which you should avoid.

In the end, aside from the food and feelings, you must also include any physical activity you pair with your diet. Take note of the kind of work out activities which you do each day so you can see how many calories you’ve burned through exercise. You may record all the nutritional information as well as your progress so you know how close you are to attaining the goals you’ve set at the beginning. Seeing how much and how fast you are progressing can actually motivate you further and help you attain what you want to.

You can track your progress by recording your weight at the beginning and taking note of any and every milestone you have accomplished. It would also be helpful to track down any food expenses so you can also find out how much you spend on food on a regular basis.

Posted on September 23, 2017 In Documents

Keeping a Food Journal

A food journal (also called a food log or diary) is a record of everything that you eat and drink during a 24 hour period. A growing amount of research has shown that people who keep a food journal are the ones who lose the most weight and keep it off the longest.

  1. Record everything that you eat and drink. Not only do your main meals matter, but your drinks, snacks, and nibbles do too. The handful of crackers while packing the kids’ lunches, the cookie from the break room at work, and that glass of wine after dinner can all add up in a big way. When you keep track of every bite and sip, you become more aware of calories that sneak in throughout your day.
  2. Be as specific as possible. Include whether foods were part of a meal or snack, the time it was eaten, how it was cooked, and if anything was added (such as dressings, condiments, salt, etc). Record food and drinks right after consumption so that you don’t forget the details.
  3. Include amounts or serving sizes. Most of us overestimate serving sizes. Pay attention to how much food is actually in a serving and record how much you are eating.
  4. Pay attention to your hunger level. Record your hunger level before eating (0= not hungry at all, 10= starving). This can help you learn if you are eating because you are hungry or for other reasons such as boredom, happiness, or anger.
  5. Describe your mood or thoughts before eating or drinking. Pay attention to how you feel as you are eating. Are you rewarding or punishing yourself with food? Are you feeling shame or guilt? Write these thoughts down as you become aware of them.
  6. Make recording food intake a daily habit. If you can’t track your food intake every day, do it on most days of the week and especially on days that you are prone to over-eating or making less healthy food choices.
  7. Choose the format that fits your lifestyle. Your food journal can be kept in a notebook, a computer spreadsheet, on a website, or by using a phone “app.” Several of the internet programs have a large database of foods to choose from so that you may easily keep track of calories and other nutritional information.
  8. Find an accountability partner. It is helpful to find someone with whom you can “check-in” on a regular basis. Choose a supportive, non-judgmental friend, family member, co-worker, health coach, personal trainer, etc.
  9. Check out online resources and apps. Many online programs and apps are available to help make food journaling easier. For example, the USDA’s Supertracker offers one tool to try. Others include MyNetDiary Calorie Counter, MealLogger, and MyFitnessPal.
  10. Feeling overwhelmed? If the thought of keeping a food journal seems impossible to you, try breaking it up into small pieces. Start by recording your basic food intake for a few days. Once you have mastered this, start paying attention to how many servings you eat. Add more details to your journal as you become more comfortable with the process.

Additional Resource

American Council on Exercise

American Council on Exercise—Fit Life

The 3 best food journals for diet & weight loss

Based on my research and experience, I think the best food journal for most people is the Life & Apples Journal on Amazon. It’s sturdy, well-designed, and has some great in-depth tracking options for calorie counting, weight loss, and fitness journaling.

However, having a really good calorie counting app on your phone is a lot more convenient and practical these days! If you’re looking for an on-the-go option, you can’t do much better than MyFoodDiary — it’s extremely robust, easy to use, and accurate!

Read on for some more options and to learn how I chose my picks.

Getting into shape can be frustrating.

Sometimes you feel like you’re exercising and eating well, but you’re just not getting to where you need to be.

That’s where keeping a food journal comes in!

Really good food journals help you track what you eat and drink, how you feel, and even sometimes what exercises you’re doing.

Why is that important? Tracking this information can help you see what food mistakes you might be making. Plus, a 2008 study found that people who keep food journals lose 2x as much weight as people who don’t.

If that sounds like exactly what you need, here are my top picks for the best food journals:

  • Best Budget Food Journal: Daily Food Journal (Amazon)
  • Best Mid-Range Food Journal: Fitlosophy Fitspiration Journal (Amazon)
  • Best High-End Food Journal: Life & Apples Food Journal (Amazon)
  • Best Calorie Tracking App: My Food Diary

Document

Image Product Details
Daily Food Journal
  • Simple & lightweight
  • Budget-friendly
Check on Amazon
Fitspiration Journal
  • Sturdy & durable
  • Mood tracking
  • Excellent value
Check on Amazon
My PickLife & Apples Journal
  • Tons of pages
  • Eco-friendly
  • In-depth tracking options
Check on Amazon

Maintaining a daily food diary app can help you quickly reach your health or weight goals. Our daily diet plays a major role in affecting not only our weight but also the way we feel. Keeping track of your diet has proven to help people reach weight goals quicker. If you are interested in changing your eating habits, you need to accustom yourself to keeping a food diary (R). This will help you log all of the food you consumed, discovering new things about your own health.

How to Keep a Diet Journal

Congrats on taking the first step in improving your health using a food diary app. You can use your journal to record every aspect of your diet and set up reminders. Reminders added in the app can help you eat your meals on time and in the right portion. Use our app to identify triggers that cause certain symptoms to trigger in your body.

It offers an excellent opportunity to analyze your food choices, as well as the reasons for preferring a certain diet. You can add commonly eaten foods and figure out potential reasons for which you might break your weight loss programs. The application can be a useful tool in sticking to a certain diet and achieving your weight loss goals.

You can create multiple care plans for each diet plan you may have. Create separate check-ins with regard to your weight loss goals, entering potential solutions (diet, physical exercise, etc.). You can use the application to keep track of the overall intake of calories, as well as watch your carb, fat, sodium or fiber intake.

In the situation that you suffer from chronic conditions, such as diabetes or celiac disease, you can trust CareClinic to gather information about a specific nutrition plan in one single place. For those with diabetes, keep track of blood sugar levels and prevent insulin spikes/crashes.

For a lot of people, overeating occurs as a result of stress, lack of time and other unforeseeable factors. By keeping a food journal online, through the help of CareClinic, you can easily follow your diet and prevent overeating. The health app allows you to be in control of your diet, eating healthier and opting for better food choices.

In order to make things easier, you can record your current and target weight, as well as your waist circumference, BMI, height and age. As mentioned, you can also add details about your activity level and exercise regimen, as all of these data can be useful with regard to your weight loss goals.

Why is it important to keep a food journal?

The answer is simple. By keeping track of everything you will eat in a day, you will be able to identify whether you are making healthy choices or not. More importantly, you will clearly see if your diet helps you lose weight or leads to additional weight gain (progress monitoring).

From another perspective, food tracking is useful to those who are underweight and often end up skipping meals. As you monitor your eating habits and be reminded to eat, you will reduce the risk of developing a eating disorder. These reminders will ensure that you eat regularly, thus feeling more energetic for the rest of the day and avoiding hypoglycemic states.

The online food diary helps you maintain a balanced diet, entering various meals and snacks. You can go one step further and break every meal into different food groups. The application can be used to keep track of daily vitamin and nutrient intakes, as well as to save your favorite meals (highly convenient).

As you will track food, you will be more accountable for your diet and feel empowered to make the necessary changes. The food journal clearly offers a deep insight into poor eating habits and allows you to discover the reasons for which emotional eating occurs. You can easily use it to eliminate unhealthy patterns and improve your nutrition overall.

As you will analyze your diet and associated eating habits, you will also see that it is not as difficult to make some changes. The reminders will help you eat with regularity and the online diary will identify negative behaviors. You will finally be able to see how much you are eating and what causes you to opt for less-than-suitable meals. What matters is that you take your time to log your meals as accurately as it is possible, so that you identify potential problems.

Food Diaries – what information should it contain?

CareClinic is a useful tool – you can even think about it as “my food diary”. You can record how much food you are eating, as well as beverages (especially if they contain alcohol, caffeine or sugar – sodas). In describing your meals, be as specific as you can; do not hesitate to add information on extras, such as condiments, sauces or topping.

Mention when you are eating your meals, as this can help you identify, for example, a frequent pattern of late-night snacking. Add details on where you are eating – at home, in front of the TV or in the kitchen; at a restaurant or in the car, on the run. Provide details on additional activities, such as watching TV, working or playing a game, on your mood (happy, sad or bored) and who was there (you were alone, with family or friends).

Rules for managing calories with your food diary

If you decided to use CareClinic as your food diary, do not hesitate to write everything down. Even if you had a piece of candy or a small soda, enter it into the journal and you will soon see that calories do add up. Record your meals on the spot, as the end of the day you might be too tired to remember all of the details.

Be honest about the type of food you are eating, as changing your habits has to come from you. For instance, if you ate fried chicken for lunch, do not say just chicken – the caloric intake differs in accordance with the way the meal was prepared. Also, if you have had gravy or dressings with the meal, these have to be specified as well.

Discovering the connection between eating and mood

You might not be aware of this for a fact but your diet plays a definite influence on your mood. By using CareClinic as a food tracker app, you will be able to identify a pattern between your diet and mood. All you need to do is track what you ate on a particular day and how you felt, identifying a specific pattern in the process.

The meal log is a highly useful feature and you can record a wealth of information about your meals, including specific dishes, the way you ate and how you were feeling. You can make notes of specific behaviors that can impact your diet, such as binge eating or weighing yourself before or after having a meal. It will become easier to see how your diet influences mood. (R)

Recording Symptoms of various Medical Conditions

If you suffer from a medical condition that might impose a specific diet – for example, if you have been diagnosed with diabetes or gastritis – do not hesitate to use CareClinic and record the various symptoms you might be experiencing. This can help you get a better picture of your overall health and also to make the necessary daily adjustments to your diet.

The logged data will be compiled into a comprehensive health report, which can be shared with your treating physician. You can discuss the free food diary and identify potential diet changes so that you can improve your health and reduce the intensity/frequency of experienced symptoms.

Entering Additional Data into your Diet Log

It is important to be aware of all the facts that can influence your diet. However, you do not need to make an effort and remember everything. You can rely on CareClinic as more than a free online food diary. Use it to record facts about your stool, quality of digestion and mood.

Enter your medication and supplements, facts on your menstruation, skin and the presence of specific manifestations, such as pain or inflammation. You can also offer information on your current levels of physical activity and sleep. Based on these details, you can see emerging patterns and make a connection between your health and diet. For instance, you might discover that certain foods give you a rash.

Monitor Progress with Friends & Family

Sometimes, it is easier to make diet changes, if another person is there for you. The application has a specific feature that allows you to add other people – your care team – and save their information. You can then share your progress with the people who are close to you, celebrating your goals and sticking to your diet.

The benefits of smartphone food diary apps

CareClinic can be used as a highly-effective food log, providing a novel way to assess your diet and make the necessary changes. You can follow your food intake in real time and observe contextual factors that can influence your diet, as well as estimate the necessary energy intake.

The application is more than suited to identify eating patterns and the context in which these have the tendency to offer. Smartphone technology allows for effective dietary management and the accurate observation of dietary behaviors. Users can log where they are eating their meals, if they ate alone or with other people, how they prepared their food.

It is interesting to notice that one can enter additional information within the application. One can record sleep patterns, medication, and dietary supplements and mood changes.

The application offers an innovative way of assessing one’s diet and nutritional intake. Thanks to the daily food tracker, you can get a better understanding of your eating habits. However, it does not substitute medical advice and it should never replace the actual doctor appointments.

Maintaining a Food Diary App can help with Weight Loss

People who are interested in losing weight should keep a food journal, recording information on how their food was prepared, what quantity they ate and in which context (R). Applications such as CareClinic can be used to estimate portions and make better meal choices.

You can easily see if your diet is healthy or not, how many servings of fruits and vegetables you eat every day and if your diet contains whole grains or not. The food log will allow you to see which foods and beverages contain added sugar and their influence on your mood. You will also be able to see if you are opting for unhealthy snacks upon being tired or stressed, or if you eat on the run.

Last, but not least, you can use the application to set healthy eating goals. For example, you can set a goal to eat more vegetables, to reduce your takeout orders and cook more at home, to opt for healthier snacks – such as fresh fruits and snacks – including at work.

To signup and maintain a food diary, click here to get started.

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Alexandra V.

Alexandra V. holds a degree in Physiotherapy from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Carol Davila. She holds an additional degree in Journalism and writes in English and German. She is passionate about preventative health care and has an undergrad in Medicine.

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